If you’re going to Hill Air Force Base’s upcoming air show, security officials have a message for you: pack light and play nice.
As the 2016 Warriors Over the Wasatch open house and air show nears, base security personnel say they’re prepared for the worst — whatever form that may come in.
Lt. Col. Kristopher Long, commander of Hill’s 75th Operations Support Squadron, said organizers have spent the better part of a year preparing for the show the military and the Federal Aviation Administration classifies as a “non-standard operation.”
“There is some inherent hazard or risk to an air show,” Long said. “In order to mitigate those risks, we go through a lot of planning.”
Security considerations will include keeping an expected crowd of 600,000 under control and away from performance areas, screening spectators for potentially dangerous items and being prepared for possible mid-air collisions — among many other things, Long said.
Multiple layers of security personnel will be on constant patrol during the show, said 1st Lt. Christopher Keranen, air show security coordinator. Some of those individuals will show an obvious presence, others will be more covert.
“Some things are as simple as watching out for someone who has had too much to drink,” Long said. “But obviously, there are much higher levels as well.”
As attendees enter the base, they will be searched for prohibited items. Alcohol, non-prescription drugs, and weapons of any kind are strictly forbidden. So are large coolers, awnings, and large lawn chairs. Check www.hill.af.mil/warriorsoverthewasatch to see the full list of prohibited and permitted items.
Keranen said when in doubt, patrons should think about how they travel to the airport.
“The safest bet is to pack like you would pack when you go to the airport,” he said. “It will be similar to that.”
Long says everyone attending the show will be required to walk through detectors and all items they bring in will be thoroughly searched. Oddly enough, Long says, knives have been frequently confiscated at previous shows.
“They didn’t have bad intentions, but for whatever reason, we’ve had people think it would be OK to bring knives in,” he said. “A lot of people claimed that the knife they had to give up at the portal was their great uncle’s or some kind of family heirloom, but whether it’s a thousand dollar knife or a 10 dollar knife, you’re probably going to lose it if you bring it.”
Long said emergency crews are also prepared for a plane crash, a security aspect that seems immediately more urgent in light of a June 2 crash of a U.S. Air Force Thunderbird pilot in Colorado Springs.
Nearly 30 emergency management teams from Weber and Davis counties will be at the show and the crews have already completed a live, mass casualty exercise in preparation for the show.
“We have spectators that could potentially get injured,” Long said. “We think the likelihood of that is low, but if there’s anything the military does well is plan and we’ve planned extensively for that type of scenario. We’ve planned everything down to the smallest detail because we have to.”
The free air show will run from 10 a.m. to 5 p.m. on June 25 and 26. The Breitling Jet Team, the Army Golden Knights parachute team and nearly 20 other performers are scheduled. The show will also feature 50 static aircraft displays and an Air Force “Heritage Flight,” where an F-35 Lightning II will take to the skies with a vintage World War II plane.